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Culinary discovery

Dining down the Danube: 5 delicious treats to savour

From Wachau Valley wine to the world’s oldest sausage restaurant, the banks of the Danube are steeped in culinary traditions.

By Jeannine Williamson

The Blue Danube might be famous for a certain waltz composed by Johann Strauss, but there are plenty of other reasons to savour a trip to the river lined with steep terraced vineyards and lush pastures. Quite simply, it’s a foodie paradise.

Stretching between the Austrian towns of Melk and Krems, the 20-mile UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley is one of the most picturesque regions along the Danube and it’s also home to some of the best vineyards. Here, you’ll find fresh and aromatic Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines, sold at pretty wine taverns that hug the river banks. 

When it’s time to eat, the lush soils of the valley also produce plump apricots which are celebrated for their sweet taste. They’re such a local speciality that they’ve been granted Protected Designation of Origin status by the EU, which means only fruit from the region can be described as Wachau apricots or Wachauer Marille.

And you don’t just need to visit during the summertime, when roadside stalls are laden with fresh fruit, as they can be enjoyed year-round. Scrumptious cinnamon-sprinkled apricot dumplings called marillenknödel are a menu staple in local restaurants and the apricots are made into fruit juice, liqueur, jam, chocolate and all manner of treats.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth you’ll probably have heard of Vienna’s wicked chocolate cake, Sacher Torte, first created for royalty in 1832 by the pastry chef at the Austrian capital’s Hotel Sacher. Although it dates back earlier to 1653, another Austrian confection, Linzer Torte, is less well-known. Named after the city of Linz where it was invented, and made with ground nuts and a filling of raspberry jam, it’s a cross between a cake and a tart and equally delicious. 

For savoury food fans, Vienna’s other celebrated dish is Wiener schnitzel served with potato salad. The most popular place to try it is Figlmüller, just around the corner from St Stephen’s Cathedral. Opened in 1905, it claims to be ‘home’ of the dish traditionally made with veal fillets that are pounded flat and fried in seasoned breadcrumbs. In a sign of the times, the restaurant also serves a plant-based vegan version created by Swiss company Planted.

Moving to Germany, where it’s said there are 800 types of different sausages, the world’s oldest sausage kitchen can be found in Regensburg. Wurstkuchl first opened its doors in the Middle Ages to serve dockers and the hungry stonemasons that built the nearby 16-arch stone bridge in the 12th century. Work up an appetite before you go as the pork sausages, served with sauerkraut and mustard, come in portions of six, eight, 10 or 12!

If you’re on the move, the ubiquitous German street food currywurst is a great snack to grab while you’re sightseeing. Originally invented in Berlin, the sausage slices smothered in curry sauce can be now be found everywhere.

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Published 03.02.22